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Why I Read: An Explanation

As many before me have observed, God’s people are people of the Word. It is no trifling coincidence that God chose to give us His revelation in print. As a Christian, I have the Book of Books, and in that book, I am exhorted – nay, commanded – to love God with my heart and my mind (Matt. 23:34-40). I am to use my intellect. I am to sharpen it for the love and glory of my God. And what better way to do that than through reading?

Josh Sowen writes,

Reading is one of the best ways to develop our minds. It can help us to know God and ourselves, gain vicarious experience, increase our perception and imagination, train our minds to think critically and logically, and teach us self-discipline… 

Christians should be readers. We should read and meditate on the Bible, of course, but we should also read theology. Good theology systematizes and explains the Bible in ways we would be pressed to come up with on our own. Few of us are a Jonathan Edwards, John Owen, J. I. Packer or John Piper, and we would be wise to learn from them.

Most of us know we should read the Bible and theology. But what about other subjects, like literature, history, biography, science, and culture? And what about books by non-Christians? I think we should read widely, and yes, that includes reading non-Christians. 

God has set up the world so that even non-Christians can find truth. I’ve learned truth from Christians and non-Christians. We can’t expect non-Christians to have sound theology, but they are some of the best authors in other subjects. If we reject their Spirit-given insights because they are non-Christians we, as Calvin says, “insult the Giver.”

It is a sad state of affairs that so many of today’s Christians do not know what it is to read widely or well. They stagnate, unwilling to set aside time even for God’s Word, the very book that should hold the most prominent place in their lives. “How readest thou?” asks Jesus in Luke 10:26. For most modern evangelicals, I’m afraid the answer would have to be, “Not well, and not much.”

I don’t want to be one of those people. That’s not what the life of a Christ-follower should look like. By God’s grace, I’ll number myself among the few, the happy few, the band of brothers and sisters who rebel against the status-quo.

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